One in four pregnancies end in miscarriage, according to the World Health Organization. But while there are cultural scripts for responding to pregnancy and birth, there isn’t one for miscarriage. Instead, families facing pregnancy loss often experience shame, stigma and isolation.
Amanda Knox wants to change that.
Knox, who in 2015 was exonerated by Italy’s highest court after being wrongfully convicted of murder, is now an independent journalist and podcaster who co-hosts the podcast “Labyrinths: Getting Lost with Amanda Knox” with her husband, Christopher Robinson.
When Knox had a miscarriage during the COVID-19 pandemic, she made infertility the focus of a new season of “Labyrinths.”
Her experience with miscarriage was isolating, she said, and brought up questions “reminiscent … of my own wrongful conviction experience,” she said. Questions like, “Why is this happening to me? It’s so unfair. It doesn’t make any sense,” she said. “And I felt very alone. I had never talked to anyone before about miscarriage experiences.”
In previous episodes of their show, Knox and Robinson have covered everything from the murder case that led to Knox’s wrongful conviction (including Malcolm Gladwell’s take on it) to their own wedding (it was time-travel-themed), and interviewed a variety of guests, including LeVar Burton, Washington state Rep. Tarra Simmons, journalist Jon Ronson and Samantha Geimer, the woman at the center of the Roman Polanski rape case.
But pivoting to a five-episode season about miscarriage was a way to understand and process their experience, and to make room for others to do the same. When Knox sought out stories about miscarriage on social media, she “was shocked to discover the number of people who, first of all, had these experiences, and also felt like they had never been heard or had never had the opportunity to talk about it.”
“I feel like the one thing that my experience has given me the opportunity to do is to be a really good listener, and to convey what I have heard, to other people in ways that potentially people aren’t primed to hear,” she said. “A lot of the stuff that I talk about is really challenging. And it requires you to question some of your prejudgments about people or about certain topics or ideas in order to see the human across from you.”
Knox’s experience navigating the legal system — and the media narratives that followed and continue to follow her — means she’s intimately acquainted with how it feels to be that human on the other side of an interview. She’s experienced firsthand the difference between “someone … really actually engaging with me and having compassion for me, and someone who was treating me like the latest click content.”
This dynamic follows her everywhere, from unwanted tabloid coverage of her wedding, to “Stillwater,” a movie inspired by her story and starring Matt Damon, slated for release July 30.
“I have complicated feelings about stories ‘inspired by’ my trauma, but ire for reviews of #STILLWATER like this one that refer to me as a person convicted of murder, & conveniently fail to mention my acquittal by Italy’s highest court. @DEADLINE DO BETTER,” Knox wrote on Twitter July 12 in reference to a review in Deadline.
When Malcolm Gladwell crafted a chapter on Knox’s case for his book “Talking to Strangers,” he didn’t reach out to her for comment.
“He didn’t have to,” said Knox. “That’s the crazy thing. Once you become a figure in a story, your story doesn’t belong to you anymore. And that is the sort of shocking experience that I’ve had that I noticed other people having all the time … and so it seems like the only thing to do is to try to give people their stories back.”
In her work and on her public platforms, Knox uses her experience to stand up for reform within the legal system and connect with sources who have survived similar ordeals.
On Twitter, she has voiced support for Britney Spears, tweeting, “There are many unjust ways freedom can be restricted. This conservatorship is one. #FreeBritney,” and opposition to life sentences without parole, saying they are “cruel,” provide no path to redemption, expensive, disincentivizing to rehabilitation, and ignore “basic truths about human development.”
In Scarlet Letter Reports, a series she hosted for Vice, Knox interviewed women who’ve experienced public shaming, often because they spoke out against abuse from institutions or individuals, among them the ballet dancer Alexandra Waterbury.
In 2018, Waterbury sued New York City Ballet following alleged sexual harassment from male dancers in the company, who shared explicit images of women dancers via text message without the women’s knowledge or consent.
“I’m lucky that the attention that I got from it, 99.9% of it was positive,” said Waterbury of her choice to speak out against the abuse. “I seriously couldn’t imagine what you went through.”
Knox responded, “For me, it was surreal because it was strangers [who] were telling me who I was. But for you, it was your world and your people who were doing this to you.”
It’s a moment where the interview stops sounding like a rigidly journalistic encounter and more like a mutual moment of processing traumas that, while not the same, share points of overlap.
Similar moments recur throughout the new season of Knox’s podcast on pregnancy loss, as Knox and her sources work to process an experience that’s both profoundly destabilizing and, as she put it, “stunningly common.”
“One thing that we all sort of take for granted is being able to have a family … we all came from families,” she said. “We all came about in this world because our parents made us happen.”
Pregnancy loss or infertility — like a wrongful conviction or a circuitous journey through the legal system — are “things that you never really think about until it happens to you,” she said.
When she was in prison, Knox recalled, there was only so much other people could do for her. But she valued people who could hear her describe having trouble getting through the day without “being squeamish to sit in that uncomfortable space with me.”
“Because honestly, when you are an innocent person going through a very, very difficult, unfair experience … the one thing that actually helps is just not feeling like you’re alone facing it, that we collectively all acknowledge and appreciate that this thing is real,” she said. “And that whatever you are feeling about it — good, bad, hope, despair — all of that is valid and worthwhile and worth listening to.”